Since the game’s beta release, this has erupted into controversy. Although EA is following in the footsteps of many home/online game developers before them, those developers have many times ensured loot boxes only reward players with solely cosmetic items or items that don’t affect gameplay all too much. In Star Wars Battlefront 2, players saw a true “pay-to-win” model, meaning those who had more money were “better” at the game, not those with more skill. With that, many revolted. In a huff, EA removed all microtransactions from the game in the days before its full release on Nov. 17.
Although the world of home games is far from our industry, it may pay to stay cognizant of the situation. EA’s stock has dropped in response to the public outcry, in the U.S. and abroad some government officials have taken notice of the word “gambling” and the company is now stuck with a game that can only be sold for $60, but was promised to bring in much more with microtransactions.
Whether the game turns out to be a fiscal flop is yet to be seen, although the massive public outcry over the company’s perceived greed certainly can’t be helping sales. No matter the result, it should serve as a reminder to our trade that promoting fair play and staying away from anything that can be construed as “gambling” when it comes to games for kids and families is ALWAYS the best way forward. Parents, legislators and masses of torch-bearing, easily mobilized online crowds are always watching.
Focusing on fun and fairness has worked for generations of game makers, as our industry still shows today with the AAMA’s recently penned Fair Play Pledge. RePlay continues to assert that this, and the philosophy of mutual benefit between game maker, operator and the customer it promotes, is the way to keep away from dangerous, potentially litigious, waters.